During a recent trip to Germany I visited the Mercedes Benz Museum in Stuttgart, and one of the coolest things I saw was the world’s oldest existing truck. Its maker, Daimler, referred to it as a lastwagen—which literally translates to “load carriage”, a term that has come to mean truck. They didn’t call the vehicle a pickup, but with its flat low-sided bed and hinged tailgate—what else could it be?
The lastwagen was introduced in 1896 but no models from the first two years have survived to the present. Trucks were slow to catch on in Germany, and the first sales were made in England. The problem was, early motorized vehicles were play toys for the rich and people had a hard time accepting the idea they could be used for work. The first German buyers were breweries that used them to haul barrels of beer.
Light work trucks are now very common in Germany, but they don’t look anything like our pickups. The ones I saw resembled vans with their bodies cut short in back. Oddly enough, Mercedes Benz (which is owned by Daimler) is reported to be working on an American style pickup. The as yet unnamed vehicle is said to be a midsize truck that will initially be sold outside of North America. It makes sense Mercedes would offer them elsewhere first; unlike pickup buyers in the rest of the world, American’s greatly prefer full-size models.